“Orioles Classics” #TBT: Bronze these moments from Iron Man’s career

The days continue to get shorter as the winter solstice approaches. The pandemic just won’t go away. And now Major League Baseball has suspended operations while owners and players, maneuvering for the upper hand in negotiations toward a new collective bargaining agreement, circle each other like Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed.

Take heart, Orioles fans. There’s still a couple of months’ worth of that dance left before spring training and the 2022 season face the threat of disruption. Meanwhile, MASN continues to bring you memorable moments from seasons past.

In this week’s helping of “Orioles Classics,” you’ll get a satisfying portion of the exploits of one Calvin Edwin Ripken Jr., the local boy who is, perhaps, the figure most closely associated with the O’s and Baltimore sports generally. And on the side you’ll enjoy a signature moment in the career of a Ripken teammate who was himself inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame this year. Also, witness some impressive power displays from other O’s stars.

So lighten up! In a couple of weeks the days will start growing longer again and the spring and live baseball will draw nearer. Meanwhile, bask in the glow of “Orioles Classics.”

Thursday, Dec. 9 - 2 p.m. - While fans had warm memories of the miracles on 33rd Street at Memorial Stadium, the opening of Oriole Park at Camden Yards downtown generated undeniable excitement. And the Birds took to their new home - now generally regarded as the prototype for all the modern-amenities-with-retro-vibe ballparks that came later - like the proverbial duck to water. On April 6, 1992, veteran right-hander Rick Sutcliffe drew the honor of throwing the first pitches at Camden Yards, and he and Cleveland starter Charles Nagy each went the distance in a classic pitchers’ duel. Chris Hoiles doubled in a run and Bill Ripken plated Leo Gomez with a squeeze bunt in the fifth for the game’s only scores as the Orioles opened their season with a 2-0 win.

Thursday, Dec. 9 - 11:59 p.m. - This round of pies is on us. It had been 17 years since the Orioles last tasted an American League East title, so when the Birds nailed one down with an 8-2 victory over the Blue Jays at Camden Yards on Sept. 16, 2014, the postgame pastries-to-the-face-tries celebration was especially sweet. Alejandro De Aza (triple, three RBIs) and Steve Pearce (home run, three RBIs) led the hit parade.

Friday, Dec. 10 - 2 p.m. - Understandably, when they hear Ripken’s name, most fans think of his legendary consecutive games streak. But there was more to the Iron Man than just his endurance. He joined an elite club on April 15, 2000, when he singled off Héctor Carrasco to record his 3,000th career hit during the Orioles’ 6-4 win over the Twins at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

Sunday, Dec. 12 - 1 p.m. - The Orioles punished Oakland pitching on the way to an 18-2 blowout win over the Athletics on Aug. 16, 2015 at Camden Yards. Half of the O’s runs came in the fifth inning as they sent 13 to the plate. Caleb Joseph led the charge, going 3-for-4 with a double, a home run and four RBIs. Southpaw Wei-Yin Chen gave up eight hits over six innings, but easily collected the win.

Monday, Dec. 13 - 11:59 p.m. - Nothing lasts forever, and as the Birds’ 1998 season was winding down toward a fourth-place finish, Ripken decided on Sept. 20 that it was finally time for a day off. Ryan Minor handled third base (the position Ripken played in his later career after many years at shortstop) at Camden Yards against the Yankees that night, going 1-for-4 in a 5-4 O’s loss. Roberto Alomar went 3-for-4 with an RBI.

Tuesday, Dec. 14 - noon - Chris Davis called it a career this year after long battling injuries and a prolonged hitting slump. No farewell tour, no Camden Yards curtain call. So younger fans might not appreciate that Davis gave us some truly eye-popping moments during his years as an Oriole. Case in point: June 23, 2014 at Oriole Park. The O’s had jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the White Sox in the first inning, but were down 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth. Pearce lined a single off Ronald Belisario to lead off, then Belisario hit Adam Jones with a pitch. With one out, skipper Buck Showalter summoned the lefty-swinging Davis to pinch-hit for the right-handed bat of Delmon Young. Davis’ three-run blast gave the Birds the instant 6-4 win.

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